ONSIDE: Still time for Newcastle United to call the Toon


I HAVE a confession to make on the eve of the new Premier League football season.

As a teenager I was a rabid fan of Scottish rockers Big Country.

Even today I will still defend 1983 debut album The Crossing as a work of bagpiped genius.

The problem was that their next six follow-ups sounded exactly the same.

Which is why I hope history can repeat itself in the case of Newcastle United.

The Magpies have endured similar close seasons to this summer before.

Two years ago top scorer Kevin Nolan was unexpectedly elbowed south to West Ham while Joey Barton repeatedly ranted at club owner Mike Ashley on Twitter.

Oh and the squad looked rather threadbare of both talent and numbers.

So what happened next? An 11-game unbeaten start to the Premier League season and an eventual place in the Europa League.

So what happened next? Well let us just forget about last season for a moment.

without the distraction of playing in Europe on Thursday nights, even Newcastle’s current squad are strong enough to finish midtable.

The addition of just one more striker could also propel them into the top half of the table.

I’m sure most fans would settle for that if it was accompanied by a decent cup run and at least four points from the neighbours.

The fear is, however, that better players like Yohan Cabaye or Hatem Ben Arfa will be sold at the 11th hour without manager Alan Pardew, football director Joe Kinnear or Uncle Tom Cobley – who was Uncle Tom Cobley by the way? – “getting one over the line” in return.

Defeat in Monday night’s opener at Manchester City is inevitable.

It is the manner of the team’s surrender that will be more telling.

But the three games following immediately after – a Capital One Cup trip to Morecambe sandwiched inbetween home clashes with West Ham United and Fulham – are all winnable.

It is only after those matches and the September 2 transfer deadline that we will have a clearer idea about how upbeat the music facing Pardew’s side will be.